​​Skills shortage in IT sector means employers may have to look abroad for talent

Wednesday 23 October 2013

According to a recent survey by City & Guilds, the British education system is failing to meet the needs of business - this means that many firms must look further afield and recruit from abroad if they want to enhance their workforce with skilled and knowledgeable talent.
The research, which polled 1,000 employers, was released ahead of the City & Guilds launch of TechBac, a new study programme that will include structured work experience as a standard part of the course.
It found that 60 per cent of employers believe that the UK is facing a skills shortage, and the majority of those questioned said that the country's education system was to blame.
Meanwhile, three-fifths said that employment expectations among young people are too high or that they don't understand what employers are looking for.
The skills shortage is especially high in the IT, digital and information services - with 74 per cent of employers identifying a shortage in those sectors.
This gap in the market could be good news for skilled IT contractors or self-employed professionals who are looking for work. Engineering and manufacturing were also suffering from a lack of skilled talent, with 72 per cent of respondents citing those as industries in need of a boost.
In order to deal with the skills shortage, one-third of employers said they are looking to recruit foreign workers. More than half also said that they would like to be more involved in developing qualifications - as this could help to build a stronger link between education and business needs.
However, many respondents said that core skills like literacy, communication and numeracy were incredibly valuable in job candidates and were often more important than academic qualifications. Indeed, 55 per cent of those questioned said that they would hire somebody without a degree if they seemed like a suitable candidate otherwise.
Work experience was another important factor when it comes to hiring young people, as those who have worked in other jobs typically demonstrate a better understanding of the work environment and how to conduct themselves professionally.
Employers also said that other benefits of hiring a candidate with previous work experience include them having a good attitude to work and learning on the job, and a better understanding of industry in general.
Commenting on the report, Chris Jones, CEO and director general of City & Guilds indicated that the results of the research would be important for the government to consider as it attempts to improve the unemployment rate among young people - a figure that currently stands around one million.
He also pointed out that the issue isn't just a lack of job opportunities. "There is a more fundamental problem with the qualifications, core skills and lack of understanding of the workplace that is preventing young people from successfully fining employment," he said, adding that changes to the overall education system need to considered - moving away from a 'pure focus' on academia and initiating a curriculum that also meets the needs of students' future employers.

By Victoria McDonnell

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